The Advantages and Limitations of Cross-Sectional Body Composition Analysis

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care. 2011 Dec; 5(4):342-9. doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e32834c49eb.
MacDonald, A. J., Greig, C. A., & Baracos, V.


Purpose of Review: Cross-sectional (C-S) imaging is now commonly used to measure body composition in clinical studies. This review highlights the advantages, limitations and suggested future directions for this technique.

Recent Findings: Current understanding of C-S imaging reproducibility, tissue identification and segmentation methods, comparison between imaging techniques and estimates of whole body composition using a single image are described.

Summary: C-S imaging can reliably measure muscle and fat distribution and uniquely discriminate between intra-abdominal organ and muscle component of fat-free mass. It precisely tracks changes within an individual, but is less able to distinguish true differences in whole body estimates between individuals.

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List of abbreviations

DGEM German Society for Nutritional Medicine (German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin)
GESKES  Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (German Gesellschaft für klinische Ernährung der Schweiz) 
ESPEN European Society of Clinicl Nutrition and Metabolism